Flow as in moving continuously and easily. It comes from within.
Flux as in those things that aid free movement and change. Often coming from without.
Flow and flux having an inestimable number of ways of weaving in and out of each other – right now it’s happening in seven billion lives.
Flow also means we’re in something and that something is in us. It is able to expand and increase because of flux. Flux in the shape of things that happen in and around us, from others, the world we live in, events, ideas, and more.
There’s an ongoing debate – it’s thousands of years old – as to whether personhood is substantial or relational. Here is an attempt by me to ponder these things a couple of days ago. Flow and flux is another attempt on my part to get my head around this, though not as some intellectual exercise but as a means to help people know their intrinsic worth (substance and flow) and their relational worth (nature and nurture, David Shenk’s control board’s knobs and witches inside every human cell,* presence and absence), making it more possible to remain in a state of flow (continuity) and flux (alteration).
To be continuous, that is, to know who we are, flow requires some way of being held together. As Erwin McManus points out:
‘When we lack integrity, we find ourselves several people depending on the circumstances.’**
Story is how we do this. When you tell me your life history, what you’ve done when and where, and how you moved from there to here, you are telling me a story. Story is powerful. It helps us know who we are (substance, continuity) but it makes it possible to open to others, our world (relationships, change) – we can keep writing more into our stories.
Here is the author Neil Gaiman speaking of his experience in the Moth Community – who “promotes connection and visibility through the practice of personal storytelling”:
“The Moth connects us, as humans. Because we all have stories. Or perhaps, because we are, as humans, already an assemblage of stories. And the gulf that exists between us as people is that when we look at each other we might see faces, skin colour, gender, race, or attitudes, but we don’t see, we can’t see, the stories. And once we hear each other’s stories we realize that the things we see as dividing us are, all too often, illusions, falsehoods: that the walls between us are in truth no thicker than scenery.”^
It’s important to have boundaries to our lives – to know who we are and who others are – but fixed boundaries are dangerous to our wellbeing. Eckhart Tolle’s writes about the part of us that is offended by how others speak and act towards us. He calls it our “painbody” – an expression of our ego (false self). The painbody in us wants to be hurt by what people say or do; it underlines for us just how we were right to think about ourselves and others in the way we do. Porous boundaries, on the other hand, make it possible to receive from others in ways that allow= growth and imagination and creativity to unfold in our lives. As such, we become the kind of space or environment for others to be affirmed and encouraged into their flow and flux.